Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls: Beth McMullen

Book: Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls
Author: Beth McMullen
Pages: 304
Age Range: 9-13

MrsSmithSpySchoolMrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls, by Beth McMullen, features an elite boarding school that is actually a cover for a hidden spy agency with female teen agents. Who could resist that? Not I. Narrator Abigail knows none of this when her mother strong-arms her into attending Smith School for Children, but she finds out soon enough when a late-night escapade and an escape attempt go awry. As the story progresses she learns self-defense moves from a mean girl super-agent, is sent to California as bait for a trap, is kidnapped (more than once), and escapes again to undertake a quest of her own. There are cool (if slightly glitchy) gadgets, unexpected bad guys, and loyal friends. Fans of Kiki Strike will definitely want to give Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls a look. I believe it may also work for fans of the Gallagher Girls series, though Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls is aimed more at middle grade than YA readers. 

What made Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls work for me was not so much the strong girl looking to be a spy premise (though that was certainly the hook), but rather Abigail's understated yet snarky voice. I'm not supposed to quote from the ARC, but she uses phrases like "smartphone blackjack", and she keeps her snarkiest responses to herself (shared in italics, to differentiate from regular dialog). There's a little more of a "trappings of rich kids" vibe than I personally love, but I suppose that's hard to avoid when setting a book in an elite boarding school. And it's certainly more plausible that rich kids would be able to skip about the country for adventures than otherwise. 

Abigail is a goofier, more realistic, more female version of young James Bond. She has a crush on a boy who likes someone else, but it's all very PG, and not especially "girly". I see no reason why boys wouldn't enjoy this book just as much as girls would. Beth McMullen takes a bit of time in Mrs. Smith's Spy School for Girls to set the stage for the further adventures of Abigail and her crew. Hopefully other books will be forthcoming soon, because this is going to be a fun series, sure to please middle grade fans of spy/adventure stories. 

Publisher: Aladdin (@SimonKids)
Publication Date: July 4, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the author

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: June 14: #SummerReading Edition

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have four book reviews (picture books and young adult) and two posts with my daughter's latest literacy milestone (reading to recharge and needing the next book in a series). I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, and one that shares my top five tips for parents to encourage kids' summer reading. I'll be trying to take these tips to heart myself in the coming weeks, as my daughter has just started her summer vacation. Hard to believe she's now a rising second grader. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I finished two early chapter books, three young adult novels, and one adult nonfiction title. I read/listened to: 

  • Sara Pennypacker (ill. Marla Frazee): Clementine. Disney Hyperion. Early Chapter Book. Completed June 1, 2017. Read aloud to my daughter. My previous review.
  • Sara Pennypacker (ill. Marla Frazee): The Talented Clementine. Disney Hyperion. Early Chapter Book. Completed June 5, 2017. Read aloud to my daughter. My previous review.
  • Chris Bradford: Bodyguard #3: Hijack. Philomel Books. YA Thriller. Completed June 4, 2017. Review of the first four books in this series to come. Great for summer reading!
  • Chris Bradford: Bodyguard #4: Ransom. Philomel Books. YA Thriller. Completed June 4, 2017.
  • Gwenda Bond: Double Down. Switch Press. YA Science Fiction. Completed June 12, 2017, on Kindle. This is a fun series!
  • Vanessa Van Edwards: Captivate. Portfolio. Adult Nonfiction. Completed June 6, 2017, on MP3.

HarryPotterGobletofFireI'm currently reading Serafina and the Splintered Heart (Book 3) by Robert Beatty and listening to The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway series) by Elly Griffiths. My daughter and I are reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire together. As this is a longer book with a sad event at the end, I was going to wait a bit before reading this one to my daughter. But she begged and pleaded, and I figured that if I'm going to go around telling other parents that I think they should give their kids choice in what they read this summer, I had better do the same. She's on notice that if she starts having nightmares we will stop. But so far, so good. 

IvyAndBean1You can find my daughter's 2017 reading list here (though I'm finding it harder to keep this list up to date now that she's reading some of the books on her own). She's had a nostalgic return to having my husband read her Berenstain Bears books of late (maybe they say "summer vacation" to her). We're also working our way through some new picture books that have been arriving. She now routinely takes books to read for even the shortest car trip. My mother tells me that I was exactly the same. She's been making noises about finding longer books to read on her own, so that she doesn't finish quite so quickly, but I'm in no rush. She just finished the first Ivy and Bean book, and is asking for the second. 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Super Slug of Doom: Matty Long

Book: Super Slug of Doom
Author: Matty Long
Pages: 32
Age Range: 5-8

SuperSlugOfDoomSuper Slug of Doom is the sequel to Matty Long's Super Happy Magic Forest (reviewed here). In this installment, an evil slug named Zorgoth is accidentally released and sets out to find and drink The Potion of Power. If Zorgoth is successful, the Super Happy Magic Forest will be destroyed. The same band of five heroes from the previous book sets out to follow Zorgoth's (slime) trail, and prevent disaster. Their travels lead them deep beneath the earth, where they encounter one-eyed miner trolls, hot lava-soaking dragons, and culinarily-obsessed ogres. But, in the end, the heroes manage to save the day. 

What makes Super Slug of Doom fun are tongue-in-cheek moments. For example, at one point four of them are sitting around a campfire when they realize that Trevor, their mushroom companion, is  missing. Then Blossom the unicorn says: "Come to think of it, I remember seeing Trevor in a cage back in Ogre Village...". And off they go to undertake a rescue. Observant young readers will have already noticed Trevor in the cage, next to a sign that says: "DINNER: Mushroom toast. DESSERT: Low-fat yogurt."

My other favorite scene comes late in the book. The text says:

"Eventually, the heroes
arrived at the foot of a great
mountain. Somehow, they knew
that the Potion of Power
must be close."

The illustration shows a huge sign in the shape of an arrow that says: "POTION OF POWER THIS WAY". Yes, somehow they knew. 

So the heroes are a bit hapless. But this is going to work perfectly for young readers, who can feel superior. The illustrations in Super Slug of Doom tend towards complex page spreads filled with small pictures, and plenty of dialog bubbles to read. This is more a book to pore over than a book to read aloud. Certainly it is better one-on-one than in a group read-aloud setting, where the small images would be too hard to read. My daughter was especially pleased to notice an "Ogre Yoda", and also appreciated a cameo from two penguins seen in the first book. 

Fans of Super Happy Magic Forest will probably be as thrilled as my daughter was to see that there is now a sequel. While I'm not sure the second book completely holds up to the fun and inventiveness of the first (because that would be difficult), Super Slug of Doom is still well worth a look, and a must-purchase for libraries serving the K-2 set. Recommended. 

Publisher: Scholastic (@Scholastic
Publication Date: June 27, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Literacy Milestone: NEEDING the Next Book

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter has been reading up a storm lately. She reads in the car, in her bed, when she's waiting for us to be ready to go somewhere, etc. She's reading so much that it's become a slight challenge, despite all of the books I have in my house, to keep her in books. The reason is something that I should have predicted: she's come to appreciate the power of the series.

We always had some series characters in our read-aloud mix, of course. Little Critter, the Berenstain Bears, Elephant & Piggie, Paddington. But the picture book and early reader series is usually about giving kids a familiar character, more than about continuing a storyline. There's not particular need to read the Berenstain Bears books in order, after all (even though the family does change a bit over time). I think that the need for the NEXT book is also developmental on the part of the reader. The Magic Tree House books do feature some story arcs that continue across more than one book. We spent a lot of time over the past couple of years reading those books aloud, and my daughter never cared at all about reading them in order.

NancyClancySecretAdmirerBut now that she's reading early chapter books on her own, she's suddenly much more aware of the presence of sequels, and the drive to read the whole series in order. The other day she came in from the car, where she had stayed to finish her book after the drive home from karate. She announced: "Mommy, I NEED Nancy Clancy: Secret Admirer" (book 2 of the Fancy Nancy chapter book series). There are stacks and stacks of books in her room and in my office. But having finished the first book in the series, she now needs the second one.

I do understand. I've worked my way through many a series, most recently on audio. The first books that I clearly remember reading on my own are the Little House books. I can remember sitting on the windowsill in my third grade classroom reading them, one after another. I think it's no coincidence that it's a series that I remember first, though clearly I must have read other books on my own prior to those. And I do drop all of the books in my own TBR pile when a new book is released in one of my favorite series. 

Of course the publishers understand this fascination that emergent readers have with series books. Most of the books that my daughter is reading include at least a one-page description of the next book, if not a teaser chapter. She especially likes the various Scholastic Branches series, and Scholastic certainly knows how to make the next book, and the next one after that, appealing. 

BabysittersClub4Recently, knowing that my daughter had a plane trip coming up, I bought her the next books in several series that she liked. I stuck them on a shelf in my bedroom, instead of giving them to her, so that she would still have them for the trip. I wanted her to have books with her that I knew she would enjoy. Of course you can all predict what happened. She found the books, and accused me of lying to her, by not giving them to her to read right away. She made off with one of them, over my not all that convincing protests, and started to read. And then I had to go ahead and order the next next books. (OK, I didn't have to. But I am a very soft touch when it comes to books). 

For those who are interested, the series that are currently consuming my daughter's attention include:

But of course this list will evolve quickly. I also have the first Ivy and Bean and Ballpark Mysteries (set at Fenway) books on reserve. And we are reading the Clementine books together. So, my reading friends, does this milestone feel familiar to you? 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: June 9: Children's Choice Awards, #SummerReading Tips + #OutdoorPlay

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookLists, #DiverseBooks, #EarlyReaders, #GrowingBookworms, #PictureBooks, #play, #RaisingReaders, #STEM, #SummerReading, audiobooks, BEA, book awards, bullying, crafting, eBooks, education, kidlitosphere, parenting, poetry, preschool, read aloud, and reading. 

Book Lists + Awards

Triangle(Seriously) Fun for Kids, + short reviews from  https://t.co/V7vtfL3fKL

Chapter Books for Kids that Transcend "Issues", a

2017 Children’s & Teen Choice Book Awards announced for through |  https://t.co/KFUH2GxdQP

Growing Bookworms + #SummerReading Tips

BirthdayForBear Challenge: Turning into — examples + suggestions from  https://t.co/ae6j1rGdTt 

If has a billboard he would encourage to kids early + often. What would yours say? http://ow.ly/fmvX30cnqWW

Encouraging w/ Authentic Experiences | Providing books, using online tools, modeling |  https://t.co/zARAlH13Kk

Fun Round Up of Resources from + more

I certainly agree with this article | Conversations – Not Apps — Grow Children’s Language https://t.co/o6rrGtwLKv

Confessions of (+ request for suggestions from) a (Failed) Battle of the Books Coach — Julie Hakim Azzam

Kidlitosphere

It's time again for the Call For Roundup Hosts from  

ShadowCipherSome tidbits you might have missed in this week's Fusenews: May Contain Comic Seriousness —

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Updated stats on kids' , inc. print vs. digital, at via  

Dabbling in Diverse Formats: How I Use and by

Erica suggests you Build Kids' Vocabulary w/ a Summer Word Jar (Plus Tips and Ideas)

Parenting + Play

GiftOfFailureOlder piece but a good reminder: Why Free Is the Best Summer School  https://t.co/WEJgmA9z0X

This Is Why Open Ended Crafting Helps Kids Thrive - and Tips for Getting Started from  https://t.co/7ncTpKXcx9 

Empowering Girls to Respond to Social Aggressive by Bethany Todd +

So… at Child Care Centers Is Optional? Huh? | This is frustrating

Schools and Libraries

RaisingKidsWhoReadAdaptive practice, personalized learning + what will "obviously" work in sometimes doesn't  

Studies that Honor Preschool “Rigor” Are NOT to Be Trusted | rebuts piece via

This is cool. 's library is launching In Your Neighborhood program taking books to kids

Thoughts from on Stocking a 7th Grade Classroom , providing for range of interest/reading levels

STEM

Good stuff! Using Creativity to Boost Young Children’s Thinking in school + home  https://t.co/HI416OK8jg 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


And Then There Were Four: Nancy Werlin

Book: And Then There Were Four
Author: Nancy Werlin
Pages: 416
Age Range: 13 and up

ThereWereFOurWow. Nancy Werlin's And Then There Were Four is a suspenseful young adult novel that had me on the edge of my seat. It's about five teens, brought together under misleading circumstances, who are thrust into peril. While I can't say I found all of the details completely plausible, I was nonetheless riveted. And Then There Were Four reminded me a little bit of the Lois Duncan suspense novels that I loved as a young adult, albeit with more detail and with a more modern sensibility (social media plays an important role, a major character is gay, there's some racial and socioeconomic diversity, etc). 

And Then There Were Four is told in alternating viewpoints by Saralinda, who struggles with a couple of physical challenges, and Caleb, who struggles with the apparent presence of a secondary personality that does bad things. Saralinda's chapters are told in a first person viewpoint with an occasional stream of consciousness lack of punctuation, while Caleb's are in an unusual second person viewpoint. This makes it very easy to tell the narrators apart. Here's Caleb:

"I could not have done this, you think. Could I?

Unsteadily, unsure, you get to your feet. Did you maybe rig something? Somehow? On the root? During the daytime? No, that's crazy. Also, you haven't had any intervals of blank time recently. But then again, you've never realized you've had an episode until you're confronted by proof." (Page 31, ARC)

And here's Saralinda:

"I wish she wouldn't criticize my reading about which she knows nothing because she doesn't read novels, my books are excellent and some have romance yes and also they have themes and interesting people in them and so much to learn. And if I were going to die (am I going to die? (I would not care about requesting a last meal, I would request a last book that is how important books are." (Page 332, ARC)

The characters are all interesting and complex, and the relationships that they form are realistically difficult, but made strong by common trauma. I don't want to say more here, because this is a book you should experience knowing as little about it as possible. Just trust  me. And Then There Were Four is book that will make readers think, and certainly keep readers turning the pages. I'm glad that I was able to read it over a 24 hour period, in two sittings, and suggest that other readers try to do the same. Highly recommended, and an excellent YA thriller for summer reading!

Publisher: Dial Books (@PenguinTeen)
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Tips for Encouraging Summer Reading

I wrote an article for my daughter's school website recently that included tips for parents to encourage their kids to read over the summer. Reprinted here are my main suggestions from that article:

KFRR-6ed-cover"1. Give your kids CHOICE. There are many other activities and screens vying for kids' attention. If you want them to choose reading, you have to make reading as enjoyable as possible. And the number one way to do that (see the Scholastic Kids and Family Reading Report for details) is to give them choice in what they read. Take them to the library or a local bookstore. Let them browse on Amazon. Go to a garage sale or visit a Little Free Library. Just make sure they have plenty of choice and give them (within your parental values) free rein.
 
2. Don't worry too much about reading levels for summer reading. Trying books above their official reading level because they are particularly interested in something can be a validating experience and can help kids to stretch their abilities. But if your child wants to re-read her favorites from two summers ago, let her do that, too, just as you permit yourself read that "beach read" at the pool. The most important thing is that kids enjoy reading. They'll naturally get better and better at it all the time if they choose to spend time reading. Comic books, graphic novels, fact-filled almanacs, joke books ... it's all reading, and it's all good.
 
3. Read with your kids some of the time. Continue reading aloud to your kids if/when you can, even after they can read on their own. This gives them a chance to hear more challenging books, and gives you the chance as a family to share and discuss all sorts of interesting things.
 
4. Let them see you reading. Ideally, let them see you reading print books. Even if you are reading a book on your phone, they won't see it that way. But if they see you choose a book instead of picking up your phone or turning on the TV, they will be more likely to do the same. This is especially true for boys who see their dads reading.
 
5. If you have long car rides together, try listening to audiobooks. As long as you pick something good, this can make the drive go by much more quickly. And yes, listening is real reading. New readers have a much higher listening comprehension level than they do decoding ability, so audiobooks are a chance to boost enjoyment and vocabulary."

Of course I can think of other tips, too, but these are a good place to start. What it all boils down to is, give kids choice and keep summer reading fun. Happy reading!!

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This post may contain affiliate links. 


Kid Amazing vs. the Blob: Josh Schneider

Book: Kid Amazing vs. the Blob
Author: Josh Schneider
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-7

KidAmazingBlogIn Kid Amazing vs. the Blob, a boy named Jimmy has a secret identity as a crime-fighting superhero. When the "emergency catastrophe alarm" goes off with "an extremely annoying howl", Jimmy heads down through a secret elevator to a high-tech base hidden deep below his otherwise ordinary home. There he dons his special gear and transforms into Kid Amazing! The Commissioner sends him off on a mission that involves confronting his "arch-nemesis, the Blob!". After dangerous encounters with a stink cloud and a slime-covered floor, Kid Amazing finds a way to silence the Blob and save the day. 

The joke, of course, is that the Commissioner is Jimmy's mom, the Blob is his baby sister, and her "stink-containment unit" is a dirty diaper. Adult readers will know exactly where the story is going from the first couple of pages. Younger listeners will catch on as the book progresses.

Although I didn't find Kid Amazing vs. the Blob suspenseful, I appreciated the way that Schneider captures the hyper-dramatic way that kids interact with the world. And I liked Jimmy's mom's matter-of-fact acceptance of it. Like this:

"It's the Commissioner.

"What is it, Commissioner?" asks Kid Amazing.

"Jimmy--" says the Commissioner.

"Kid Amazing," says Kid Amazing.

"Kid Amazing," says the Commissioner. "Do you hear that howling? Could you please see what's going on?"

"I'm on it," says Kid Amazing. Who could it be?
And evil giant robot? Those space lobsters again?
No, only one thing could howl such an annoying howl:
Kid Amazing's arch-nemesis, the Blob!

"The Blob! says Kid Amazing. "Don't worry. I'll take care of her.""

And off he goes. The above text covers one side of a single page spread. On the other we see Kid Amazing at the controls of his lair, looking through a screen at the Commissioner, who is washing dishes in the kitchen but wearing a police hat. The lair is shown in blue-gray shading, making it fairly clear what is imaginary and what is real. At least, for those who choose to accept that some of this is imaginary. 

Other pages include little insets for "Kid Amazing Gadgets", like trading cards. For example, there's "#55. Mystery Cloth":

"The origin of this mystery cloth is
unknown (although it does bear a
slight resemblance to a missing black
tie). In any event, with the Kid's
brilliant addition of two holes, it
now keeps his secret identity safe." 

A small sketch indicates that the Mystery Cloth is an eye mask. 

Kid Amazing vs. the Blob is fairly text-dense, but the melodramatic tone should keep it accessible for read-alouds to preschoolers. I think it would work better as a one-on-one read-aloud than for storytime, however, because I see kids wanting to look more closely at the pages, unwrapping what is actually going on in light of what Kid Amazing says is going on. 

Kids who enjoy pretending to be spies and secret agents and the like will identify with Kid Amazing, and likely to want to draw their own secret lairs. Kids who have younger siblings will appreciate the perils of stinks and slime, and responsibility that comes with looking after babies. Kid Amazing vs. the Blob is definitely worth a look for the superhero-obsessed set. 

Publisher: Clarion (@HMHKids) 
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Literacy Milestone: Reading to Recharge

LiteracyMilestoneA

My daughter recently went on a family camping trip with my husband and a number of our friends (I stayed home to read - no surprise to anyone). My daughter was very excited about the trip and she had a great time. But I was not surprised to hear from two of my friends that my daughter had gone missing one afternoon and been discovered in her tent, by herself, reading.

My daughter is like my extroverted husband in a lot of ways. But this incident (together with others, since she was quite young) tells me that there's some of her introverted mother in there, too. I was pleased that she could self-diagnose the need for some quiet recharging time, and that she turned to a book.

BabysittersClub2She came back from the trip, which also included two four-hour car rides, and announced that she had finished four of the books that I sent and started a fifth. My inner child, the one who read for the entire car ride from Boston to Disney World at age 10, nodded in recognition. My adult self started thinking about which books to set aside for the plane trip she has coming up later this summer.

Readers read because they love it, of course. But many of the readers I know, the ones who really NEED to read, sometimes read to escape from a busy world and recharge their energy levels. The fact that my daughter slipped away from her friends during a trip for some quiet reading time tells me that she has joined our ranks. Many of you who are reading this post will understand and appreciate this particular milestone.

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: June 2: Encouraging #SummerReading w/ Lists + More

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include #BookList, #DiverseBooks, #grit, #play, #STEM, #SummerReading, book donation, child development, curiosity, graphic novels, nonfiction, recess, reluctant readers, schools, and treehouses. 

Book Lists (inc. #SummerReading Suggestions)

OneWordFromSophiaSome good titles in 20 with African American Girl Characters,  

25+ Must-Have Books for Reluctant Readers @TheBooksource via

A nice list: 30 Modern, Middle Grade Classics, from for

Useful for me: The Ultimate Guide to Girl-Empowering for Kids l via https://t.co/lc6qY1p401 

Events + Programs (inc. #SummerReading Ideas)

FancyNancyICanReadThis post about giving kids the chance to "shop" for donated books made me a little teary-eyed https://t.co/h8fvi2d9hl 

How one book-loving mom encourages her boys' to do (+ summit + )

Sharing the Wealth by | honoring the parents who taught her to love books via donation https://t.co/DHXE1jMtWX 

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

What Does Want From a Book? Believable characters, realistic dialogue + more

TreehouseWarCreative Challenge For Kids: Design The Best Ever! | daughter inspired by 's book 

Query from | Is 2017 a Stronger Than Usual Year for Children’s ?

Parenting 

What Makes Teens Most Likely to Succeed? | #1 They know who they are + what they want (motivation / #grit) https://t.co/LY9cROnUhd 

Can You Teach Resilience? asks + , reflecting on piece by

Embracing Rejection: allowing kids to choose their own playmates (and say no) helps develop skills

Schools and Libraries

3 Ways Condition Students and risk losing their curiosity + love of challenge  

A call from for Longer -> active , socialization + Stronger Child Development

HackingLeadershipRe reform, we should Redefine Roles (students, teachers, etc), Not The Whole System says

Six Steps That Will Change Learners & , transformational teaching, better interaction

4 Things I'm NOT Saying When I Speak About Developmentally Appropriate Practice https://t.co/WKl5UtAgXi

STEM

Using Activity Packs as prizes for programs, ideas from  

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


What George Forgot: Kathy Wolff and Richard Byrne

Book: What George Forgot
Author: Kathy Wolff
Illustrator: Richard Byrne
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6

WhatGeorgeForgotWhat George Forgot is a very cute picture book, perfect for the pre-K-2 set. George is a young boy (my first grade daughter declares him without doubt to be a kindergartener) who is about to leave for school. The problem is that George is pretty sure he's forgotten something important. So he runs back in his mind through all of the things he's done that morning, from waking up to waking his family to eating breakfast to petting the dog. The first clue to what George has forgotten is revealed to young readers here:

"He'd gotten dressed in his favorite fuzzy sweater.
And put on his brand-new watch.
He'd even remembered clean undies.

What could George be forgetting?"

Astute young readers like my first grader will immediately notice that George neglects to put on pants over his clean undies (polka-dotted boxers). Younger listeners may take longer, but Kathy Wolff and Richard Byrne do give them other chances (particularly when George uses the bathroom). In the end, it's George's little sister and his dog who realize what he's forgotten and run after him to catch him as he gets on the school bus. Even though she knew what he had forgotten all along, my daughter still pealed with laughter at the book's conclusion. 

As for me, I got a kick of the author's clear understanding of young children. Like this:

Had he remembered to:

Use the bathroom?
Yes.

Flush? Yes.

Wash his hands? Yes.

(With soap?)

Oh, right. Yes.

Turn off the faucet?
Yes. (Just in time!)

This sequence, over three pages, is accompanies by vignettes. Any parent will smile over George first holding out his wet hands, and only displaying soap bubbles after being reminded. The nearly overflowing sink also reminded me of a recent near miss with the bathtub in my house. 

Richard Byrne's illustrations add warmth and humor, with details about George's large, messy breakfast and an incident in which he uses toast crusts and yogurt to give his little sister whiskers. George is large-headed and messy-haired, with a generally cheerful smile. No parents are visible, adding to the book's kid-friendliness quotient. 

What George Forgot has a perfect blend of realistic day-to-day detail and over-the-top, slapstick humor. Even though George does, well, forget his pants, he's otherwise quite competent and independent. This would be a great book to give to any kid as a first-day-of-school (especially preschool) gift. Highly recommended, and new favorite in my house. 

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (@BloomsburyKids)
Publication Date: July 4, 2017
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: May 31: Memorial Day Weekend Reading + Keeping A Junior Bookworm in Books

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this issue I have four book reviews (all picture books, but I have more variation coming up soon) and one post with my daughter's latest literacy milestone (having her own genre preference). I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter, and one that highlights a couple of joy of learning-related articles in more detail. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I finished three early chapter books, four middle grade novels, four young adult novels, and one adult novel. I was lucky enough to have a three day weekend to myself over Memorial Day weekend, which I dedicated to reading and reviewing books. I read/listened to: 

HijackI'm happy to have so many reviews scheduled of middle grade and YA titles. As most of my reads this weekend were ARCs, some of the reviews will not be coming out until later in the summer, closer to publication. I'm currently listening to Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards and reading Bodyguard #3: Hijack by Chris Bradford.  

I'm also happy to report that after struggling a bit to find our next read-together book, my daughter and I have settled in with Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and Marla Frazee. I've been a fan of Clementine for years now (see my 10-year-old review of the first book), and am delighted that my daughter appreciates her, too. And yes, she could probably read Clementine on her own, but we are enjoying sharing Clementine's exploits together. 

OwlDiaries1You can find my daughter's 2017 reading list here. She's been a reading machine of late, plowing through titles in bed, in the car, on vacation, and any old time she has a few minutes to spare. The Owl Diaries book referenced above was her introduction to notebook novels, and she is already asking for more of those.

As for me, I'm working quietly in the background to make sure that the books that she wants next are there when she needs them. This is no small task, even for one who has as many books as I do, because of course she wants particular books. Like the Babysitters Club graphic novels, and further titles in the Dr. KittyCat series (introduced to us by Karen Yingling). Fortunately, I am up to the challenge (and having a great time). 

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook